Becky Henchman has lived in the Seattle area for more than 20 years before deciding that it was finally time to meet her neighbors.
“When people first move here, it is so hard to get to know your neighbors,” said Henchman, who lives in Hampton Woods in Sammamish. “People in Seattle are friendly, but they’re not warm. It’s hard to make real relationships.”
Henchman is referring to the “Seattle Freeze,” a term on both Wikipedia and Urban Dictionary referencing Seattle’s attitude of “have a nice day, but have it somewhere else.” Urban Dictionary explains that it’s easy to get along with people in Seattle, but making friends is almost impossible. Henchman heard about the term, and realized it was in fact a pretty true statement.
“I decided to declare war on the Seattle Freeze,” she said.
Henchman began a “de-freeze” campaign in April. She started a blog called ‘Eat Play Thaw,’ vowing to have one neighbor over for dinner once a month for 12 months.
“Sometimes we make these pre-judgements on people, instead of just inviting them for coffee,” she said. “I’m just trying to be very intentional and to do it for myself, and then also encourage others to open up our own circles of friendship and accept some of those invitations as well.”
Henchman said that all friendships in life start somewhere, whether it’s through a common interest or chance meeting. Seattle is a place that is becoming more and more diverse, Henchman said, and just because people are working too much doesn’t mean they don’t need that connection.
“It means we need it even more,” she said. “People want to connect.”
So far, Henchman has had four neighbors over for dinner, a Fourth of July barbecue and a group of Sammamish women over for lunch.
“In other areas of the United States, having a neighbor over is no big deal,” she said. “But I’m doing a blog about it because it’s so odd for Seattle, and nobody really knows why that is.”
Henchman said that life is what we make it, and her goal is to commit to the “De-freeze” campaign for a year and maybe longer in the hopes of changing that Seattle reputation.
“We already live in one of the most beautiful areas of the country,” Henchman said. “What if we became the friendliest area as well? What would that do to our community?”
Henchman, who has a background in marketing and communications, said she loves to write and find stories, but wanted her blog to have a sense of integrity. Her entries include her thoughts and reflections as she journeys through her “De-freeze” campaign, ideas for people trying to get involved and meet people in their communities, recipes and more. Henchman said she hopes that more people will check out her blog simply for ideas and encouragement.
“The greatest gifts in my life have been people,” she said. “I’m a firm believer that you can’t have too many connections.”
Kelly Montgomery: 425-391-0363; email@example.com